Smoking Risks and High Blood Pressure

When you play with fire, you get burned. When you smoke, you run the risk of getting burned inside and out. Whether tobacco is smoked, chewed, or taken in by any other means, the nicotine in the tobacco raises the blood pressure. The more you smoke, the higher the nicotine level is in your blood, and the higher your blood pressure. This accounts to a large extent for the great increase in brain attacks, heart attacks, and pain in the legs due to poor circulation in smokers, sometimes leading to amputation.

Nicotine raises your blood pressure by constricting your blood vessels. This occurs because the oxygen in your blood decreases and because nicotine directly stimulates the production of a hormone, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), in the adrenal gland. Epinephrine raises blood pressure. After tobacco use raises blood pressure, you’re at risk of all the medical consequences of high blood pressure, not to mention diseases associated with smoking, such as mouth and lung cancer.

Numerous studies have shown that smoking or chewing tobacco raises blood pressure and that when you stop using tobacco products, your blood pressure falls. The latest such study in the Journal of Hypertension (February 2002) comes from France. Out of 12,417 men who were current smokers, previous smokers, and never smokers, current smokers had the highest prevalence of high blood pressure. Previous smokers had a lower prevalence with the highest rate of high blood pressure in those who had recently stopped and had smoked for the longest time. Those who had never started smoking had the lowest prevalence of high blood pressure. Do you need more evidence than that?

Even though this article is extremely brief on the subject, you have enough evidence of the dangers of tobacco and enough helpful advice to quit using tobacco that you would have to be really careless not to stop immediately, if not sooner. Drugs that have caused a small fraction of the illness and death that tobacco can be blamed for have been taken off the market. So why are cigarettes still sold legally and advertised in many of our most prestigious magazines? The answer to that question lies squarely at the feet of government and the millions of dollars spent on cigarettes that are turned around and used to influence that government.